Oh my goodness, doesn’t this sound so deep and wise? Meet fear with curiosity.
I heard that from this hot woman I met in Paris last summer. I was at this holistic healing cafe near the Louvre that was quite beautiful, and people ate and drank coffee on the bottom floor, and there was a lavender-scented yoga studio on the top, and the chef there made me a latte of some sort that had something really natural and organic in it, and it was perhaps the most wholesome latte I ever drank. And I sat outside under the bright yellow awning and all these people with beautiful dogs kept coming into the cafe, and I kept getting to pet them. And I painted my nails at the table with nail polish I’d just bought and this young woman who was a yoga teacher ended up sitting next to me, and she was friends with the chef, and I learned the chef’s name was MJ—just like the hottie in Spiderman!—and her gorgeous dog was named Athena. So that day I decided that when I got home I was going to have a dog named Athena at some point, and I really don’t care what sex that dog is.
Anyway, these women were young and brilliant because they were in their 20s, and so many women in their 20s are brilliant without even knowing it, and later at a different yoga studio where I met up with them, I was going on and on about something like I always do, and MJ just sat on the couch of the yoga room’s foyer and folded her legs behind her and said, “I try to meet fear with curiosity.”
And I was like “Damn, yeah, that’s a good one. That sounds really good. I’m going to try to do that too.”
But isn’t being human such a pain in the ass? Like, no matter how much you try to be God and figure things out, which I’m always trying to do, you just can’t. Like there is no way to figure everything out. There is only breathing, and letting go. And it is so easy to tell someone else to let go and breathe, but really hard to do it yourself. Have you ever done that, when someone is freaking out in front of you? Told them, Breathe. And how well do they do, my dear? How quickly do they just start breathing and sinking down and relaxing and saying, Yeah, all good now, thanks.
Shit, when you follow God, you are promised no reward. I want you to think about that for a minute, because it’s the opposite of what Christian leaders will tell you. What they want to say is, “Accept this and this and this and believe in it and you get this! Eternal life!”
And to that, I point you to the words of Rust Cohle from True Detective, which was a good show on HBO from several years ago that fell away but I always remembered it because of this line: “If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward, then brother, that person is a piece of shit.”
I have read a lot of books, and I’ve gone to a lot of healers, and I talk to a lot of people about all kinds of topics. And it’s all enlightening and beautiful, and those things can set us free in little ways all the time. But life is life, and life is your greatest teacher. Here and now. What are you feeling? What is in front of you in this moment? Can you calm down your mind and breathe? Can you own your words and your history? Can you accept and love all of you? Can you keep the faith?
Can you keep trusting even when things don’t turn out the way you wanted them to? Even when you’re beaten down again and again? Even when things happen that boggle your mind? Even when it feels like you’re right back in the same situation you were in months ago, or a year, or several years, and you thought you were climbing a mountain but the mountain has no peak, or it has several peaks, and now your feet are tired and your back is sore and you have no idea where you are going?
Yeah. Uh-huh. That’s faith, motherfucker. It’s not about the end result. It’s about the being, the learning, the experience.
I always look for metaphor. I can’t help it, I’m a writer. I try to use words to make sense of things and to teach. Call it pathological or something. But God is not metaphor. And life is not metaphor. God is God. Life is life. I am me. You are you. No matter how much you try to change it, these things are these things. They are not like anything else. There is no dancing around reality. There is only, perhaps, new modes of understanding.
And lordy, what am I even doing here, writing to you at 5 in the morning? Why do I get up every day and do this? What is the reason? What is motivating me? Is it a healthy use of my time? Does it make sense?
I don’t know the answer to any of that, other than that I started writing this blog last summer after I left a job, and writing this way has grounded me, and I established it as a habit and it gave me fire and life and light, and on days when I’m confused about things, I turn back to these words and they help me. Because the thing I was always looking for in this life, the thing I was always seeking, was someone like me. It was a woman like me who would come in and stroke my shoulders and my hair and tell me what to do, how to live. It was a woman I could look up to, someone to give me inspiration and drive, so that in my darker moments, I could look up to her and point and say, “I want to be that. That is where I am going.”
And “that” wasn’t anyone I had seen on a TV screen, or in a movie, or in a book. All of those women were great, too, and my head is filled with all types of characters who have inspired me. But I was never looking to be anybody other than the person I am. My problem is just that I didn’t feel like I fully knew that person, because she felt so buried under rubble. I didn’t know how to get her out of there and help her shine. And I saw all of her flaws, and I was held back by all of her stories, and I didn’t know if I believed in her enough to help her rise, because maybe, underneath it all, I didn’t believe she was worthy.
But damn, that younger version of me, that little child within me, she just doesn’t stop searching. She is as open-minded as they come. She heard all those doubts and those fears and the way I tried to keep her in dark corners, but over and over again, she kept finding it in her to stand up and search the dark corners of the room for a window. She just never gave up on the fact that there had to be a window. She just stayed so determined inside, even though there were so many moments where she thought she was going to lose her shit. She just kept getting up each day, looking for the window, no matter what happened. And I really love her for it. Because when I’m the woman, the crone-like woman who stands back in her wisdom, often biting her nails as she watches things unfold, it’s the fearless little girl inside me that inspires me and lifts me up.